The planning application for an expansion to HMP Highpoint is now in.
Planning application – construction of 3 x 4 storey houseblocks, new pharmacy, property store, healthcare, education/ vocational training, kitchen, commercial workshop and laundry buildings, 3 x MUGA1s and running track, extension to gatehouse and gym within the secure perimeter fence, together with additional car parking, a new off-site property store, landscaping and external lighting.
For obvious reasons not all the plans and usual documents will be available for public examination. I guess the plans of all the drains might be helpful for those planning to leave early!!! I have asked for all the documents and they are being sent to me.
I was due to do a site visit to the prison before Christmas but had to cancel because of covid and now government restrictions are making things difficult to reschedule.
In principle, an enlarged prison would provide for more employment and give an opportunity for local businesses. But there are things to think about.
I met with the police yesterday and the prison was one of the issues we discussed. The prison makes a huge demand on local policing resources. One detective is embedded in the prison currently and local police are regularly involved in investigating crimes committed within the prison and in the surrounding areas as a result of the prison. Trying to prevent drugs and phones entering the prison seems to be a huge task. Every hour spent at the prison is an hour the police are not working the rest of our area.
Additional demands are made on other local services for example the NHS. Everything to do with prisoners is not simple as security must be maintained at all times. These services must be paid for somehow. Who pays?
Building or extending prisons is not an activity that happens very often so we must think differently to ensure we get the very best facility with the right amount of local support. My experience of the Ministry of Justice is that it is a monolith with old fashioned practices and based on the constraints and of the Ministry of Defence. Interesting times.